Into Service: Bus replacementEarly RTLs wore the red livery with cream upper window surrounds, and restricted blinds. They went into service initially replacing elderly - or plain old - buses such as the Renown LTs and Regent STs, which would have been retired many years before but for the war.
Sidcup (SP) was the first garage to receive the production batch of RTLs, at the end of 1948, for the 21 and 51. The garage had actually received a single RT, but this was sent elsewhere, and the RTLs replaced the ageing LTs. There was also a peak hour short working on the 228, normally a single-decker route.
West Green (WG) also took RTLs at the end of 1948, for the conversion of route 29.
Hammersmith (R) had routes 17 and 72 converted early in 1949, and Barking (BK) took a considerable number in February 1949 for the 87..
March 1949 saw Plumstead (AM) receive RTLs for routes 99 and 122. Sidcup received a further quota for the 132 and 161.
The Sidcup Running Day in June 2002 was an oppotunity to bring a Leyland back to south-east London - to Chislehurst in this case, where RTL139 was spotted variously on 228 and 161 workings..After filling up the south-east suburban corner of the network, attention shifted in the spring and early summer of 1949 to trunk routes. Shepherds Bush (S), received an allocation for its share of the 12, Nunhead and Elmers End receiving RTs.
Tottenham (AR) began to receive its massive allocation of 93 RTLs for route 73, which took from May to August to supply. Meanwhile Mortlake received RTs for its share of the 73 (some of them green). The Tottenham allocation in August included some of the new Metro-Cammell variety.
Seven Kings (AP) also took RTLs during this period for routes 139 and 148.
Barking (BK) began to replace the LTs on route 145 with RTLs in August 1949.
Hammersmith (R) took a sizeable number in September for its minority share of trunk route 11 (Dalston having the lion's share, with RTs). Hammersmith also took a handfull for its share on the 88, which although small was significantly newer than Merton's Daimlers.
In October it was Turnham Green's (V) turn, even though it had already received some RTs. STs, STLs and even RTs went from the 65, in favour of new RTLs. Hanwell (HW) followed in November with the majority holding on the 55, followed by Turnham Green's share.
Plumstead had a second tranche in December for the 53 and 53A, the latter alongside Old Kent Road's RTs.
Enfield started to take some then for the 144B and 128, taking more in January 1950. West Green converted its share of the 144B to RTLs too.
1950 saw a concerted effort to replace STLs, the STs and LTs having gone at the start of the year. Plumstead, Enfield and West Green continued to stock up on RTLs.
Battersea (B) re-equipped the 19, needing 42 for its daily run-out.
Camberwell (Q) then, in March, took the first of many RTLs for the 36.
Clay Hall (CL) gained RTLs in place of STLs on routes 8, 8A, 25B and 60 from May.
Hammersmith had a second allocation in the spring for its minority share on the 27A.
Edgware (EW) converted the 141 in June 1950.
Battersea received a second quota in the spring for route 31, for which Chalk Farm (CF) also received an allocation of RTLs.
Camberwell also had a second lot, in July, for the 40, using them on Saturdays on the 35.
Palmers Green (AD) had a mixture of new and second-hand RTLs in July for the 34, the secondhand buses coming from Seven Kings which now had RTWs..
RTL139 donned Clay Hall running plates as well as route 8 blinds for public service on the last day of crew working on route 8 (from Bow), 4th June 2004.
Into Service: Tram replacementThere was a break in new RTL allocations during the late summer of 1950, as new buses were stockpiled ready for a programme of tram replacement starting in the autumn. Edgware Garage yard filled up with brand-new buses in the new livery: red with just a cream band. Although delivered with masked indicator boxes, full displays were to be a feature of the new services, and the masking was removed ready for the big day. Clapham garage was one of those in the first changover, on 1st October 1950, but was not fully ready. It took some RTLs for route 45, but its 168 and 169 tram replacement routes ran temporarily from Camberwell.
The new livery adopted during 1950 was red with a simple cream band. Of course, the new RTLs had not yet acquired trafficators, like preserved RTL326, seen looking fresh at Cobham Bus Gathering 2010 at Wisley Airfield.
More STL replacementsSouthall (HW), previously known as Hanwell, gained RTLs for the 120 and 120A in September.
In the autumn of 1950 Chalk Farm and Battersea both received RTLs for route 39, Battersea's including some secondhand ones from Seven Kings. Chalk Farm also took them for the 3 and the 68. Alperton for 18 in October. Athol Street, Poplar (C) in October for 56
Utility bus replacementsMore secondhand RTLs, displaced by RTWs at Chalk Farm and Battersea, went to Tottenham to displace Guys from the 76 and 34B. The Guys in turn replaced STs from the training fleet. These RTLs did not stay long, being replaced by RTWs in the following May. Tottenham's weekday 67 was also converted.
1951: More tram replacementA week into 1951 Clapham received a massive injection of RTLs to replace its remaining tram services, with routes 57A, 104, 155B/W, 189, 189A, 50 (peaks) and 287 (nights), while Brixton received RTs for the 50 and 287 shared with Clapham's RTLs. Clapham also reclaimed the 168 and 169 from their temporary sojourn at Camberwell. This made Clapham's the largest RTL fleet, with 130 buses.
Then stockpiling began ready for the next tram replacement, in April. Meanwhile some of the RTLs destined for that conversion were utilised temporarily at Nunhead, which used them only until April. Then, to facilitate the conversion of the London - Croydon - Purley tram network, Wandsworth yielded up its RTs to Thornton Heath and Brixton, replacing them with a massive intake of RTLs, both new and from Nunhead. These were used on the 44, 168, 170 and 288.
RTL1163 at the Cobham Open Day 1998, on Brooklands Runway. This RTL started work at Wandsworth on tram replacement duties.
Replacements and reshufflesCamberwell received an influx of new RTLs in May 1951. Thirty-three were needed to convert route 59A, but more than that arrived, allowing some of Camberwell's RTLs to be shuffled along to Sidcup, where they in turn replaced some of the earliest RTLs, now more than two years old (!) onto training duties for further tramway conversions.
Now, in spring 1951, following evaluation of the RTW trials on City routes - plus the elimination of many of the tram routes on which RTWs had been banned, there was a swap-round of rolling stock, several exchanges involving RTLs. So RTLs went from Riverside (the new name for Hammersmith) to Turnham Green and to Edgware. Turnham Green then received RTs, its RTLs going to Chalk Farm to replace SRTs on the extended 196. Camberwell also had an increase for working on the 196 too.
Alperton and Southall became RT garages in the autumn, their RTLs displacing Shepherds Bush RTWs to Upton Park, and then surplus RTLs going into store ready for the next tramway conversion. This was at Walworth depot in October 1951. Palmers Green was also converted to (new) RTs in September 1951 in order to provide enough (secondhand) RTLs for the conversion.. Many second-hand RTLs were used for this one at Walworth (just across the road from Camberwell garage), converting to RTLs on routes 176, 176A and 184.
Edgware was another garage to lose Leylands in favour of RTs, first RTWs, then RTLs. The latter headed for Hornchurch, where they replaced Guys. More new RTLs followed to Hornchurch in December.
January 1952 had a disruption to the relatively smooth renewal programme when new buses were diverted to Grays. Not RTLs, but the unexpected call on Country area RTs resulted in a half-dozen RTLs being scattered around the Country Area for three weeks or so, until they were reclaimed for Barking. Meanwhile Barking was taking RTLs for the 175.
Hendon too had an early transfusion of RTLs, just for a month or so until RTs were available. The RTLs were to replace the pre-war STDs, which were still going strong on route 13, but alongside Cricklewood's new RTs. The Unions demanded a change, and got it. The STDs went off to Enfield to replace austerity Guys.
The south-east tram changeover hardly affected the RTL allocations, except that a few RTLs went to Camberwell for route 48. Camberwell also sent routes 36A and 185 across the road to Walworth, now that building work there was complete.
During the spring of 1952 Edgware's RTLs were replaced, and went into store at Aldenham. March saw specially-constructed Weymann-bodied RTL1307 set off for a tour of the USA and Canada, with two RTs. April saw the opening of the great new Stockwell Garage, initially just with a dozen RTLs for the 178, which it had taken over from Rye Lane. But a week later the Kingsway tramway subway closed, and Stockwell provided the RTLs for the southern section of the 171 (shared with Holloway's RTs). No new RTLs were available, but Hendon provided three month old examples in exchange for new RTs. Stockwell also provided a Sunday allocation on the 88.
There was a hiatus in RTL production during the spring of 1952, but in July nineteen new ones took over the 106 from STLs at Hackney (H).
The last phase of the tramway conversion in July 1952 was short of new buses, not helped by a strike at Park Royal Vehicles. Abbey Wood (AW) was due to get RTLs for the 177. They arrived as a collection of very early RTLs scraped up from the training fleet - now no longer needed for the tram driver conversion courses - plus a handful of newer buses from Enfield, where RTs had taken over. The revised Abbey Wood was not immediately big enough to hold its allocation for the 186, which were kept in a rented yard for two months (although officially allocated to Plumstead), finally reaching Abbey Wood in September.
Enfield was busy replacing its Guys with RTs, despite still having some RTLs. The latter were displaced in September 1952, going south to Daimlerland, to Merton (AL)'s route 49, on which Battersea already ran RTLs. They did not stay long at Merton, and moved on by November as RTs took over there too.
More new RTLs began to be delivered in November 1952, and were needed to release the oldest RTLs for overhaul. But there were enough new RTLs to allow the conversion of Sutton (A)'s route 93. The 93 lost Daimlers and STLs, gaining Sutton's RTLs, plus RTs at Merton and Putney.
Preserved RTL139 has on occasion reached Dorking again on the 93 on Running Days, in Septembers 2005, 2007, respectively.RTL 1222 was the first RTL to disappear from London, going up in smoke in Walworth garage in January 1953.
Daimler replacement continued at Sutton, on the 93 and then the 156, mainly as Daimlers became decrepit.
RTLs also went to Hornchurch and Seven Kings for the 86, replacing STLs. Hackney also received new RTLs, releasing RTs for use elsewhere.
The tunnel STLs at Athol Street (C), used on the 108 and 108A, began to be replaced by normal RTLs from March 1953. Their only concession to the Blackwall Tunnel, where the roadway had been lowered, was reinforced tyres to combat the continual scrubbing against the steel kerbs. It is hard to believe today, when travelling through the northbound tunnel, that full size double-deckers used to work through here in both directions! Conversion to RTL took until March 1954.
Then there was a year-long gap in the building of RTLs. More Daimler routes needed conversion, and these had to be with RTs. Consequently RTLs were taken out of Sutton, after a brief sojourn there, and likewise Hendon replaced its RTLs with RTs. So perhaps it should not have been a surprise in June when Hornchurch received a mass of RTLs to convert the 247/A from STLs. Most of these then transferred with the routes to North Street, Romford (NS), when that garage opened in August.
The RTL merry-go-round continued in January 1954, when Nunhead, an RT shed, closed. Walworth and Stockwell needed RTLs for their take-up on routes 12 and 37. These were found by pulling the last RTLs from Sutton, and also replacing the RTL allocations at Hornchurch and North Street with RTs.
In the other direction, Dalston (D) began to take RTLs in March, and lost RTs.
By the time that the last RTLs were being delivered in 1954 London had realised that post-war transport in London was not going to grow in quite the expected way, due to the growth in car ownership. So the last 64 RTLs (like some RTs), including the Weymann batch, were put into store from October 1954 chocked up minus tyres at a number of depots that had spare space. The last 61 were taken out of store in February and March 1958, after the first 50 of the RT family had been sold through Birds in January 1958. The ex-store buses were easily spotted as they were operated for a while minus adverts.